SPRING BREAKERS (Harmony Korine) The best sexploitation film of the year has Disney tween starlets hilariously undulating, snorting cocaine, and going to jail in bikinis. What more could a serious filmgoer possibly want?
CAMILLE CLAUDEL 1915 (Bruno Dumont) Not since Freaks has there been such a harrowing pairing of a star (the sensational Juliette Binoche) with a cast of genuinely handicapped actors. Once again, the great Dumont proves he is the ultimate master of cinematic misery.
ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Catherine Breillat) Isabelle Huppert, my favorite actress in the world, plays a crazy director (based on Breillat) who recovers from a massive brain injury by falling for the convict swindler she casts in her film. Their nonsexual, obsessive relationship is sheer perfection to watch, especially when Huppert keeps falling down in those weirdly glamorous orthopedic shoes.
HORS SATAN (Bruno Dumont—AGAIN!) Nature never seemed more brutal than in this love story between a mentally challenged holy man who performs miracles and a teenage bad girl from the farm who foams at the mouth.
AFTER TILLER (Martha Shane and Lana Wilson) The brave documentary that asks the question, Which of the four doctors who still perform late-term abortions in America do you like best? Me? I’d pick the more matronly one from Albuquerque.
HANNAH ARENDT (Margarethe von Trotta) Finally, a smart biopic about a writer. Barbara Sukowa gives a phenomenal performance as the title character who caused an egghead shit storm when she found her own Jewish intellectual freedom by coming to understand the “banality of evil” at Adolf Eichmann’s trial.
BEYOND THE HILLS (Cristian Mungiu) If you thought Mother Joan of the Angels was the best arty Catholic movie about exorcism, think again. The supposedly demonized young girl is not possessed—she just wants to be a lesbian!
BLUE JASMINE (Woody Allen) My Bay Area friend said it best: “We love the movie here. Only Woody Allen could make San Francisco look ugly.”
BLACKFISH (Gabriela Cowperthwaite) A whale snuff-film documentary that’ll make you root for the kidnapped killer mammal and wish he had eaten alive Sea World’s evil owners.
I’M SO EXCITED! (Pedro Almodóvar) Flight goes queer. Right up there with Airport ’79 in the aviation-disaster genre. Only Pedro could pull off a joyously farcical yet eerily beautiful plane crash and not blow the budget by showing it.